Problem Solving

Training your Dog Where to Dig

Most dogs enjoy digging—some more than others! Young dogs love the sensation-like kids and mud. Others dig for fun, to cool off, or relieve boredom and stress. To shape and redirect this behavior remember:

* Never garden in front of a young puppy or an earth-loving dog. Think: Monkey See- Monkey Do. If she sees you put it in, don’t be too surprised if she digs it out!

* If possible, assign a special- digging place, under a porch or in a pile of leaves at a local park. Dig with your dog hiding treats and bones where she can find and unearth them.

* If it’s hot out make sure your dog’s either inside or able to find shade. Leave plenty of water outside for easy access!

* To discourage digging, play and exercise with your dog. If possible keep her with you when you’re near by or isolated indoors for short periods. If you have to leave your dog outside, isolate her away from the properties edge, leave plenty of water available and a cool area (such as a garage) accessible.

* If your dog still insists on digging, place her own stool in the holes as well as some red pepper dust before covering the holes up.

* When you can supervise your dog outside, leave a long light line dragging for quick interference. If she begins to dig, calmly pick up the line and redirect her to a digging place or another playful activity.

For more helpful tips on dog training and problem solving read Dog Perfect, by Sarah Hodgson.

Stair Training for Dogs and Puppies

Many puppies are thrown off by stairs: they can’t make sense of the depth and angle. Although it’s tempting to sooth and lift your puppy up and down, try not too—your pup will develop learned helplessness! Here’s how to encourage a Can-Do Attitude!

* Ask a helper to stand a the top or bottom of the step. Place your puppy a few stairs from either end.
* Put him down gently and lace your fingers securely about his ribs to support him and alleviate his fear of falling.
* Ask your helper to wave toys or offer treats to excite his determination. If he’s still nervous guide him through the movements with your hands and reward him at each step.
* Gradually increase the number of steps your puppy must conquer until he is rewarded. Leave on a Hand or Finger Lead to support and guide him through the motions until he is confident and proud of himself.

Excerpt “Teach Yourself Visually Dog Training,” Sarah Hodgson

House Training Your Dog

Potty training is hard step for puppies. Their internal regulation is one gigantic step towards independence. Set aside the time to help your pup re-organize their day to include potty trips.*

Follow these quick tips to get started:

* Chose a potty area—indoor or out. Like a bathroom it should be secluded and close by.

* Take your puppy to his area after eating, resting, playing or containment.

* Hang a bell and encourage your dog to signal you when he needs to go to his area. Tap the bell as you’re walking through a door or other otherwise blocked threshold.

* Say a short phrase like “Get Busy” as your puppy eliminates. Say it once in a clear voice as your puppy either pees or poops for two weeks. Soon this cue will prompt your puppy.

* If your puppy gets fidgety, nippy or moves towards and rings his bell take him to his spot immediately.

* Praise lovingly and reward him with calm, reassuring affection.

For more help with Housetraining refer to Sarah’s Puppies for Dummies and her Teaching Lead training video.

* Excerpt from Sarah’s syndicated column on the Bedford-Katonah Patch.

Training Your Dog To Love The Car

Going in a car should mean adventure, togetherness and fun! For some dogs however the rides make them sick or uneasy. To help your dog over these “road blocks” to travel here are some things to keep in mind.

Some dogs have issues with motion sickness. The rocking of the car paired with their distressed pacing or other movement further exacerbates this condition, leading to vomiting or excessive drooling. Many dogs resist travel due to the stress of the car ride.

* Decorate a space in your car for you dog. Place bedding, chewies and toys there. If your dog paces, secure a seat belt lead or consider using a crate to keep your dog in one place while you drive.

* Make the car a fun destination for treats, rewards and attention: even when you’re not going anywhere! Stop off and sit in the car while you read your mail, talk on the phone, or eat a snack. Say “Car” and point to it when you go and reward your dog when you arrive.

* Test out different areas of the car to see if one is preferable. On the floor of the front seat, behind you in the drive-side passenger seat or secured in an emptied, well-ventilated cargo space using a rear gate or station lead secured to a dog’s harness.

* Put on some soothing music, leave a favorite chew/toy and drive carefully—avoiding sharp turns and potholes. Try to make short trip to fun destinations!

* If you’re planning a long trip speak to your veterinarian about prescribing something to sooth your dog for the trip.

For more tips on social excursions and car travel safety get Sarah’s book titled: “Miss. Sarah’s Etiquette Guide for Dogs and People.”

Training Your Dog to Stay off the Counters

Counter cruising a normal sign of healthy bonding and development. A dog who scopes out the counter is copying their human parents, like a child who wants to help carve the chicken: monkey see, monkey do. Here are some quick tips to teach your dog not to jump on counters.

* Keep your counters cleared off when you can’t supervise your dog or puppy. If she can get to objects easily when you’re out of sight she’ll learn to wait until you’re not in the room.

* Yelling at your dog after she’s nabbed an object will be perceived as prize envy: whatever she’s got has value as you’re willing to invest your time to get it back. She’ll learn to grab and gobble it or wait until your back is turned or you’re out of sight to cruise.

* Leave your dog on a light drag leash when supervised around counters. Correct her the moment she shows interest in what’s on the counter. It’s best to catch her before she’s had a chance to jump up. Make a sharp startle sound like “Shhht” or “Ep, ep, ep” and tug on the leash.

* Don’t look at your dog or puppy: you’ll frighten her. Remember that what she’s doing is completely normal- a healthy sign that she wants to be like you. Yell at the countertop “Bad Counter” and slap it (all eyes on the counter): it is equivalent to telling a young child the stove is hot.

* Remember that prevention is worth 10 pounds of cure. Give your dog something to do while you’re cooking or preparing food, such a bone or toy to play with, and praise him for watching you rather than milling about.

For more tips on this and other problem solving and dog training techniques see Sarah’s book “Teach Yourself Visually Dog Training.”

Training Your Dog To Tolerate Fireworks

Poor dogs…their acute sensory grounding has no reference for the fun and folly of fireworks! For many dogs, the sudden appearance of noise pollution under a dark and sleepy sky could metaphorically be interpreted as the emotional equivalent of Chicken Little: the sky is falling, the sky is falling. . Limited to few communication options don’t be surprised if your dog needs a little reassurance. Left with few options, an emotionally distressed dog will give you all the tell tale signs of utter distress including hiding, panting and pacing—which only escalates your anxiety! What to do?

* Many dogs who rattle when faced with an incomprehensible stimulation, simply need a calm authority figure to mirror: a person or dog who takes it all in stride. Keep your dog near you on a teaching lead or hand lead. Do not look at or soothe your dog: guide him with familiar commands and act as though you’ve experienced it before. No big deal. If you sit down urge him to lay under your legs or the table.

* Use familiar directions to orient your dog and act once again, resist the temptation to soothe or physically comfort your dog, as these responses will only serve to reinforce her fear.

* If you’re not going to be home consider another plan. Containment in these circumstances is crucial, as an anxious dog will work himself into a tizzy. Use a crate or corner off a familiar area and leave on music to soothe and objects to destroy (such a toy filled paper lunch bag). Whatever you come home remember that their experience will have been far more traumatic, than your reaction to it.

Please read Sarah Hodgson’s Understanding Your Dog for Dummies, with Stanley Coren, for more helpful tips for living with and understanding your dog.

Dog Phobia

Why are some children afraid of dogs? And what can be done about it?

Sometimes, it’s simple. The parents are afraid of dogs. That one is easy. But other times, it’s not so clear. Some kids seem to have an innate fear that can’t be traced to mom’s anxiety or dad’s overprotectiveness. What can be done to ease these fears?

Many small children don’t experience dogs in the flesh. They see them in books and on television and these dogs are usually very well behaved…sometimes to the point where they talk.

Then reality strikes. Unless properly trained, most dogs will greet a child as they greet other dogs, through facial interaction and intense sniffing. Wait! This isn’t what Scooby does! This kind of highly personal greeting often startles children and adults alike. Hands are waved. Voices are raised. Things deteriorate.

It’s important that parents and dog owners prepare for a peaceful encounter with children.

If you have a dog, instill calmness and respect in the presence of children. Teach the directions down and stay or, at the very least, learn how to brace your dog into a steady sit position. Do this by kneeling, clipping your thumb over his collar (with your thumb pointed to the floor) and holding your hand across his waist. Leave the area if your dog is too excited, fearful or aggressive.

Prepare kids for meeting dogs. Keep initial meetings short and controlled. Let the meeting progress at your child’s pace.

If your child is still afraid, talk it out. Ask questions. “Can you talk to me about your fear? Are you afraid of big dogs, small dogs, black dogs, white dogs…?” See if you can narrow it down. Be respectful, sympathetic and supportive.

Let you child know you’re okay with their fear… and that you will protect them. Don’t belittle the fear or try to cajole your child out of it. If a dog is making them afraid, ask the owner to get the dog away. It doesn’t matter how nice the dog is. If your child is afraid, that’s the priority.

If the fear is a full-fledged phobia, accompanied by hyperventilation and mind-numbing panic, discover your child’s red zone: the distance from the animal he or she must keep in order to feel safe. Five feet… ten… twenty? Find a well mannered dog that you can visit together and work to lessen that distance.

Plan a family adventure to an enclosed dog park or show. Let your child know that working through the fear is a team effort and that you’ll watch the dogs from a comfortable distance. Lift your child onto your shoulders to give her a sense of height and power. Keep communication flowing and your sympathies high.